"Space sims" simulate the dream of space travel, so when you're not strafing your way across hostile space, you're exploring, seeking fresh new territories to discover, claim and exploit. They've been around since the early days of videogaming, but they probably reached their apex in popularity with the Wing Commander series of the 1990s ... along with X-Wing, TIE Fighter, Freespace, Independence War and various other incarnations.
Space sims had seemingly gone the way of adventure games, perceived by the big publishers as not profitable enough to pursue. But they're about to get a much-welcomed videogame resurgence, thanks to better graphics and computing power, as well as a burgeoning indie games industry and crowdfunding efforts from people who want to fly to space, gorrammit. In fact, almost all of the games listed here are from indie developers.
Of course, there's a downside to these many, many space sims flying out to your PC and/or PlayStation 4 in the near future (although most are in alpha or beta release and are playable now): There are too many of them. Most have trading, fighting and exploring as their raison d'etre, and "procedural generation" features prominently. So how does a prospective skywalker pick one game above the others?
With that in mind, we provided a roundup of the some of the new and upcoming space sims that will make you a master of the universe.
The one gaping hole in the space gaming genre: Disney, where's my new X-Wing game?
UPDATED: For a deeper dive into the space sims you love, check out our interview with Chris Roberts about Star Citizen.